2011-08-31, Irene Oliver-Lewis, Mesilla Valley Youth Foundation

President Ross Ramsey called the meeting to order and led us in the Pledge of Allegiance. Ivan Stubbs gave the invocation and Bob McPherson led us in song.

After meeting and greeting each other the mystery greeter was announced-it was Charlie Yaryan. If you missed him, pay up. After introduction of guests, a few happy dollars began to trickle in.


Rotary International has recently added "New Generations Service" focused on Rotary's excellent programs for youth.  Please read about this proposed change to the By-Laws. We will vote on the change later.

The International Student picnic, sponsored by Rotary and NMSU, will be held on Sunday, September 11, 2011, at Preciado Park at NMSU from 4:00 to 6:00 PM.  Be there.

Julian Anderson Maese entered this world on July 14, 2011, courtesy of Tara Alexander.  After a complicated journey, son and mother are doing fine. Congratulations, Tara.

The Program

Program chair Gary Lenzo introduced our speaker.  Irene Oliver-Lewis has very deep roots in our community, her grandparents were pioneers, her father from Mesilla and her mother from Doña Ana.  Although she has traveled extensively she has always come back to the Mesilla Valley. We are glad she did and here she is-Irene Oliver-Lewis.

Hurricanes should not be named Irene, Irene is the Greek Goddess of Peace, not destruction. After many name changes our name is Mesilla Valley Youth Center. We are located where the original Doña Ana County Court built in the 1800s once stood.  The site later became Court Junior High built by the WPA in 1937 and opened in 1941. In 1982 it was closed and abandoned in 1984.  In 1987 with a $400,000 grant from the state for renovation, it was opened as Court Youth Center-many thought with the name Court it was for juvenile delinquents' rehab.  It was not. We decided to change the name to reflect better what it is-Mesilla Valley Youth Center.

We are a non-profit and have been in operation for over 15 years.

Our mission is:  to create opportunities for the youth of Las Cruces, including at-risk youth to focus their creative energies through an art related and physical activites program. Through arts, young people will learn how to improve their critical thinking and problem solving skills and to be healthy, creative and productive members of the community.

We now have a state of the art building. Our excellent wood shop has helped many make wood working, carpentery their profession. We started as an after school program and because of its success we moved on with expansion and other programs. We were chartered in 1983 and our current lease of the property extends to 2018. We don't know the future of the property after that, but we hope to be in a position to purchase it.

We have worked with Anthony and Hatch in providing programs for their kids. We help preserve our culture, we worked to establish Jardin De Mesquite now enjoyed by many citizens.

In 2004 we opened Alma D'Arte as a school and after school program. We have had a 67% graduation rate in the four graduating classes.  Many of our graduates go on to college.

We have theater space and an event center which are available to the business community and others. We rent out space, prepare food, and provide entertainment. Our students and volunteers do most of the work.  It is good service and fun for all as our students learn.

Building bridges, changing lives, that's our goal.

Thank you, Goddess of Peace, for that fine presentation.

After the Program

The 50/50 was won by Paulina (a good birthday present).

The can collected $130 for our club project-the Child Crisis Center. (The pep talk helped.)

After reciting the Four Way Test the meeting was adjourned.

Corrections appreciated, volunteers needed. 

<prior week   following week>

Guests of Rotarians
Guest  Host
Daniel Mongeling Elaine Szalay
Vivian Steinborn Paulina Salopek

Visiting Rotarians

Rotarian Home Club


Rotarian Date Club

Submitted by George Miller